“Just as a painter needs light in order to put the finishing touches to his picture, so I need an inner light, which I feel I never have enough of in the autumn.” -- Leo Tolstoy
Artists and yogis alike speak of the power of "inner light" -- a subtle but powerful beam of insight, strength and creativity that radiates from within.
When your inner light burns bright, people notice!
You look and feel more beautiful.
You're more patient with your family and friends.
You make decisions with courage and confidence.
You feel more creative, more whole.
It's natural for our inner light to ebb and flow throughout the year. (That's why people around the world celebrate festivals of light, like Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, this time of year.)
So how's your inner light these days?
Is the holiday season making you feel even more radiant, or is your shopping, your schedule or your diet diminishing your inner light?
Here are a few tips to help you stay centered, calm and creative this winter:
1. Think warmth.
It takes considerable energy to brace ourselves for the winter chill when we leave the house, no matter how well we're insulated against the cold. When you return home from a shopping trip, errand or run, take great care to warm your senses when you return home. Get into warm, dry clothes immediately, then take a moment to savor a hot cup of tea or milk, preferably by the light of a fire or candle. Imagine the beverage warming you from the inside out. And let your eyes enjoy the randomness and mystery of a burning flame. You can tuck this simple grounding ritual into your day with ease, and even if you must return to the work of the day within minutes, the effects of small moments of time spent warming your body and gifting yourself with beauty do add up. Enjoy!
2. Be silent.
Winter is a natural time to turn within. If the holiday season is a stressful time for you, time spent in reflective silence is even more critical to your wellbeing.
A few tips for very busy writers:
- Freewrite. I used to open a text document every day before I started work. I'd set the timer for 5 or 7 minutes and proceed to dump my thoughts -- worries, fears, strange ideas and potential creative gems -- on the page without discretion. I'd write as fast as I could, and when the timer dinged, I'd often stop what I was writing in mid-sentence.
Quick, focused writing like this can do wonders to clear your mind and reconnect you to your inner light. Investing 5 minutes at the beginning of a writing session can save you much more time that than later on, because you're less anxious and more clear, calm and happy as you work.
- Journal in lists. When I was in my 20s, I spent hours lavishing the page with daily journal entries. Life these days is quite a bit busier, and honestly, journaling as I once did just doesn't appeal to me right now. What works instead is journaling in lists. No time to delve into a recap of your day on the page? Craft lists of 5, 7 or 10 things and be done with it. Besides being a great journaling tool ("5 Faces I Remember from the Day," "10 Things I'm Grateful For," "6 Places I've Never Been and Want to Visit,"), list-making is a great way to stimulate creative thought and ideas.
3. Think community.
Time spent alone is important. But stoking inner fire doesn't have to happen only in solitude…especially during the winter season.
Use the world to fill you up!
Think about the gatherings, events or occasions that light you up during the holiday season. Do you like to attend a favorite musical performance, spiritual gathering or annual holiday party? Do you take your kids on a favorite outing each year? Do you drive by certain neighborhoods or walk down certain downtown streets to enjoy the lights?
Approach your holiday outings and gatherings as opportunities to delight your senses, warm your heart and share your inner light with family and friends. This new perspective can help you approach everything -- holiday baking, gift shopping, errands -- with an attitude of generosity towards yourself and others. Just remembering "You" in the midst of everyday activities is an act of love and respect for yourself.
These everyday mindfulness practices will help you feel more connected to yourself and happier as you celebrate the season.
You'll enjoy yourself more and you'll write better, too.